Contractor Toolbox: Don’t let Limited limit your success

3 resources for Limited Company contractors

Going it alone working as a contractor and setting up a Limited Company can be a daunting prospect, particularly for those new to contracting or freelancing. With so much legislation and admin to contend with when you register as a Limited Company, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees – disrupting your focus on the work you’re being paid for.

Unfortunately, the perception of how overwhelming going Limited can seem can put people off taking this potentially profitable path – where a higher take-home pay is just one of the many advantages of a Limited Company. However, being registered as a Limited Company doesn’t have to mean going it alone. With a plethora of resources and support available, there’s always a helping hand on offer. As long as you have the right tools in your toolbox, and know where to look for them if you don’t, you can reap the rewards of your trade – focusing on the contracted work at hand.

It’s essential that as a contractor or freelancer you not only recognise the tools and resources at your disposal, but utilise them to full effect. This is especially important in a time of transition, such as registering as a Limited Company – where your own resource may become stretched as you take on the responsibilities of managing your business as a separate entity. If you’re still debating the pros and cons of which trading model is best for you, see our breakdown: Sole Trader vs Limited Company vs Umbrella.

  1. Networking tools

networking tools

Whether you’re well established as a contractor in your industry or new to the game, actively maintaining your network of business contacts is essential to success. Not only can contacts provide a valuable source of referral work for new contracts and jobs, they can provide a support network on a personal level. Rather than viewing your peers as competitors, view them as the resources that they are. Whether it’s for business advice or guidance on a specific project, utilising your network to its full extent provides some welcome support.

Networking events

Word of mouth remains the most powerful marketing tool there is, and showing your face at industry events is key in connecting with potential clients – keeping contract work flowing your way. You can action this by looking up local networking events in your sector and setting aside time each month to attend. Not only are networking events a great source of referral work, they’re an opportunity for you to network with other contractors who can be an invaluable resource for advice and guidance on everything from choosing a trading model to increasing your rate. Successful networking is about keeping the conversation going – so whether it’s an old colleague, an existing client or a friend, find a reason to get in touch with them on a regular basis.

Networking online

LinkedIn dominates the world of online networking, and you should dedicate time every day to checking your LinkedIn account and news feed. By building a list of relevant and engaged connections on LinkedIn, your profile (and services) will become visible to more new people – and you never know who could potentially send work your way, or provide a solution for a specific problem. LinkedIn groups specific to contractors are also a great place for finding referrals or discussing issues and concerns with your peers – acting as contractor community noticeboards. For more advice on getting the most out of online networking for contractors, read our blog post on the benefits of LinkedIn.

Intouch Accounting has set-up an exclusive networking group specifically for our contractor clients, providing access to valuable contacts and information exchange. Click here to request access to this group.

  1. Technology tools
technology tools

Due to the nature of contract or freelance work, organisation is essential – especially when travelling. Tracking work and time is vital for accurate invoicing and contractors need to be able to record this information on the go and keep it at their fingertips. Technology is a wonderful thing, and with a wide range of software and apps for business available, you can maximise your profitability by maximising your efficiency on the go.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage systems like DropBox and Google Docs allow you to store, share, access and edit your documents easily on the go. This is essential if you’re travelling, however, they also give you peace of mind as a backup option for important documents and client work. Accessible via laptop or smartphones, Cloud systems can be a lifesaver when working on the go.

Time tracking and invoicing

For freelancers in particular, charging an hourly or daily rate is common practice – especially if your typical week involves working on multiple projects for multiple clients. It’s essential that these type of workers are able to accurately track their time in order to produce accurate invoices to clients, evidencing the time spent on particular accounts or projects. Time tracking software and apps like Toggl allow you to easily track your day – down to the second – segmenting clients into smaller projects including activities like client communications or meetings, as well as actually producing the work. Toggl allows you to access up to date time reports over any date range and publish the results as a PDF or .CSV file – making them email and Cloud friendly for sharing with your clients.

Another popular piece of software, featured in our article ‘Top 10 technology tools for contractors’, is Harvest – combining time tracking with the ability to generate custom branded invoices and even log expenses digitally. Having access to features like this can save significant time on paperwork for contractors on the go.

Productivity

With a wide range of software and apps for business focused on productivity, your smartphone’s app store could have the solution you’ve been looking for to a particular project management problem. Tools like Evernote function as the modern day digital planner, allowing you to take notes on the go, plan projects, collaborate and share your workings. Software like this can significantly streamline project management and account admin duties for contractors and freelancers working on multiple projects.

  1. Professional tools

professional tools

Industry bodies and resources

If you do want to take a more hands on approach, there are numerous professional resources available for contractors and freelancers, providing information on everything from setting up your business to tax and IR35 legislation.

A contractor accountant can take care of all of this for you – leaving you to focus on developing your skills, taking on new work and increasing your rates. However, if you want to do your preliminary research, respected industry information sources such as Contractor Calculator and Contractor Weekly provide comprehensive and indepth information on the logistics of contracting as well as contractor news and much more.

On top of this, as a contractor you have to self motivate in order to stay on top of the latest news, developments and techniques being employed in your industry. This is particularly true if you’re self-employed in fast moving industries such as IT. Making sure you’re up to date on the latest technology trends in your sector and possess the right qualifications and training means you’ll not only win more work, but you can charge a higher rate. There are numerous respected contractor sites focused on the IT industry – providing an essential source of reliable information if you work in this sector:

Contractor UK

IT Contractor

IT Pro

IT Contractors UK

The UK Government website also provides a black and white resource, filled with essential information on legislation surrounding the various trading models common amongst contractors and freelancers. Here you will also find information specific to setting up a Limited Company – guiding you through the steps which you or your accountant must take in order to go Limited.

Your accountant

However, if you want to save yourself a headache – utilise your accountant! As a Limited Company contractor, your accountant is a lifeline for navigating the complex jungle of legal and financial rules and regulations put in place by the Government. Handling the transition to a Limited Company can be a lonely path – and one which, if you choose to pursue, can be extremely time consuming. Your accountant should be your first port of call for helping you take the leap into contracting or make the transition to a Limited Company.

If you feel your accountant could be doing more for you, contact the contractor accounting experts at Intouch Accounting. This is what we do best, and our fully comprehensive service means that you can focus on your contracted work, while we take care of the rest.

Beyond Limited Company formation (and the associated administration), a skilled accountant can help contractors and freelancers maximise their take home pay by ensuring they’re taxed correctly – while also providing sound business advice and support.

Intouch Accounting can help you

If the prospect of becoming a Limited Company is still daunting, or you’re not sure how to make the transition, give us a call on 01202 375491. Our friendly team of expert Contractor Accountants are happy to answer any questions and discuss your situation and options. We are renowned with our existing clients for our dedicated service and account management – and we’re happy to take your call and assist you on this exciting new venture!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.